[Elfsea] FW: A DallasNews.com article about teachers

morgancain@earthlink.net morgancain at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 25 12:38:54 PDT 2003


Original Message:
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TITLE:  In Dallas, 30 percent of new hires not certified in subjects they
instruct

BYline:  By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Most Texas school districts are still scrambling to find enough 
qualified teachers, according to a new study from Texas A&M University 
that found nearly a quarter of the 39,000 teachers hired last fall were 
not trained in their subjects.

The study comes amid fears that the situation could worsen after the 
Legislature slashed health insurance benefits for all teachers.

In Dallas and other large, urban districts, an estimated 30 percent of 
new teachers were not certified in the subjects they taught.

Districts were particularly hard-pressed to find enough teachers for 
foreign language and computer science classes in high schools and for 
bilingual classes in elementary schools and high schools.

About 42 percent of foreign language teachers hired last fall were not 
fully certified, according to Texas A&M researchers. Further, a large 
number of districts said it was also "very difficult to fill" vacant 
positions in high school math, science and special education.

"School districts are continuing to hire less-than-fully certified 
teachers to meet their needs," said the report by the Texas A&M 
Institute for School-University Partnerships.

"The implication for Texas' teacher preparation programs is that 
universities and other teacher preparation programs must continue their 
efforts to prepare certified teachers, especially in the areas of 
critical shortages."

State teacher groups warned that the situation may worsen in the coming 
school year because of the health insurance benefit decrease.

To help erase a $9.9 billion shortfall in the state budget, the 
Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry stripped health insurance benefits that 
teachers received from the state for the first time last year. The 
$1,900 annual allocation given to each teacher by lawmakers in 2001 was 
decreased by $500, and teachers also were required to subsidize health 
insurance of retired teachers by an average $200 – a net loss of about 
$700 per active teacher.

Texas has about 295,000 classroom teachers.

 >'Demoralized'<

"Teachers are demoralized over what has happened to them," said Brock 
Gregg of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. "Most feel that 
an important benefit was just taken away from them.

"It's something that's going to come back to haunt the state in future 
years," he said, predicting that not only will more veteran teachers 
quit, but more college students will shy away from a profession whose 
pay and benefits are diminishing in Texas.

Richard Kouri of the Texas State Teachers Association said several 
factors are driving the teacher shortage in the state, including 
salaries and health insurance benefits.

"All of them are getting worse instead of better," Mr. Kouri said. "The 
state has not increased teacher salaries since 1999, and then they came 
in this year and cut health insurance benefits." Some school districts 
are making up for the cuts, but they are sacrificing pay hikes to do so, 
according to teacher groups.

A survey of teacher salaries by the American Federation of Teachers 
released this month found Texas ranked 30th among the states, with an 
average salary of $39,230. That was more than $5,000 below the national 
average.

Mr. Kouri said the state has long had a serious problem putting enough 
properly certified teachers in the classroom.

A study by the State Board for Educator Certification found that more 
than 50,000 Texas teachers were teaching subjects they were not 
certified in for more than half the day in the 2001-02 school year. That 
represented about 18 percent of all teachers.

The study said 56,551 were teaching at least one subject they were not 
specifically trained in.

In some cases, that might have meant a biology teacher teaching physics, 
but in other situations there were teachers with no training in science 
teaching one of the sciences. Thousands were teachers with temporary 
state permits.

The Texas A&M study said there was a very slight improvement in the 
number of teachers hired who were certified in their subjects last fall. 
About 77 percent of the 39,006 new teachers held that distinction, up 
from 76 percent in the fall of 2001.

   >Incentives<

The study also found that about 80 percent of the new teachers were hired 
to replace teachers who retired or quit, while 20 percent were hired to 
fill new positions created by increased enrollment or other factors.

Finally, researchers identified the subject areas where a large number 
of school districts are offering pay incentives to hire and retain 
teachers. Those include elementary and secondary bilingual education, 
high school math and elementary special education.

Mr. Kouri and other teacher leaders pointed to several studies showing 
the importance of having properly trained teachers if students are to 
meet the academic goals that have been set for them.

For example, Texas spent millions of dollars in recent years to train 
elementary school teachers in the best techniques for building students' 
reading skills beginning in kindergarten.

The latest results on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills 
indicated that the investment paid off: 96 percent of third graders this 
year passed the reading section of the TAKS, advancing them to fourth 
grade under the state's new promotion standards.


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